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A Little Trip to the Big Easy

This post is part of our Escapes Editor’s Picks series, where LivingSocial travel experts talk about great destinations to travel and tour.

While New Orleans erupts during Mardi Gras every February, the city’s charming Creole roots and musical heritage are on display year-round. The city begs to be explored — certainly you can find a weekend for some Crescent City revelry before summer’s over. Here’s an itinerary of experiences for a brief but memorable 48-hour stay, including great deals to delight you on your southern sojourn.

Begin your getaway in the heart of the French Quarter at the four-star Astor Crowne Plaza. Enjoy the pool above the city streets as well as authentic Creole cuisine at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, located right on the property.

Start your first day at Dickie Brennan’s with a breakfast of Bourbon House Benedict and coffee, and take in the sights and sounds of central New Orleans with a table overlooking Bourbon Street. Next, get a lay of the land with a historic tour of the French Quarter, including must-see mainstays like Jackson Square, the Mississippi River, and the Quadroon Ballroom. You’ll work up quite an appetite with all that walking, so grab some lunch at Fritzel’s European Jazz Bar and enjoy high-energy performances from some of the best musicians in the birth city of jazz. Afterward, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the nation’s biggest celebrations at Mardi Gras World. A tour of this incredible space includes a history of Mardi Gras and a walk through the float den where you’ll get up close and personal with the floats for next year’s parade. For dinner, venture out to Desi Vega’s Steakhouse for the juiciest steak and seafood on this side of the Mississippi. At the end of the day, witches, ghosts, and vampires come out to play on a Witches Brew tour of the most haunted city in America. Your storyteller and guide will provide chilling counts of the supernatural as you explore haunting hotspots like the LaLaurie Mansion.

Forget about nightmares, though; you’ll be dreaming of Café Du Monde’s famous beignets, which you’ll be digging into for breakfast on day two. This New Orleans landmark has been serving up fresh coffee and hot beignets topped with powdered sugar since 1862. Afterward take a step back in time with a stroll through the Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden, built in 1825 and privately owned until 1970 when it became a museum to the rich history of Louisiana’s high society. Make a pit-stop for lunch at the award-winning Gumbo Shop, renowned for its home-style gumbo, jambalaya, and po-boy sandwiches. For a change of pace, escape to the heart of the Manchac Swamp in the afternoon for a pontoon boat tour of Louisiana’s breathtaking swamps and wetlands. Led by native Cajun captains, you’ll cruise through this private wildlife refuge and discover animals of all sorts. These swamp creatures are so accustomed to tours that they often respond to the boat captains’ calls! Head back to Bourbon Street for a last-chance dance and dinner at Bourbon Heat, where Creole cuisine served al fresco is the order of the evening. Finally, toast to a fantastic 48 hours in the Big Easy and your newfound love for NOLA with jazz and drinks at the Maison Bourbon.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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A Class Act

A happy african-american woman sitting on the floor of her living room looking at her laptop

Mid-summer means back-to-school is approaching, but kids don’t have to be the only ones preparing to hit the books. You may want to advance your career, but with the live wire that is your life, it’s hard to imagine spending hours a week in a classroom. With more than 6 million people enrolled in online classes in the last decade, the rise of online education has made it a breeze for all adults to learn new skillsets at a pace that best suits them. Check out a few of these LivingSocial online class deals to help you climb the corporate ladder with confidence.

Basic training courses give entrepreneurs or business beginners a running start in the rat race of finance. This Microsoft Excel course uses a diagnostic tool to build a custom syllabus and helps hone the exact skills you’ll need to succeed every day on the job. Whether you’re just starting out or a pro, you’ll be in a better position to close a sale with a one-month class in digital marketing taught in 10 live sessions by industry experts, lecturers, and tutors. Grab the Wall Street bull by its horns with this CPD-certified stock trading crash course, which covers topics like risk management and analysis and is offered in 11 languages.

Show, don’t tell, your clients what you know with a certificate in your field. Expand your artistic horizons and clout with a photography certification like this one, which offers hours of live online instruction for students of all levels. You are what you eat, and you’ll be able to prove it with a diploma in personal nutrition, created and taught by industry-leading dieticians specializing in food composition, diet, exercise, and sport nutrition.

Today, enter promo code EXPERIENCE at checkout to get 20% off your next purchase. Save even more and be the coolest kid in class.

When Nature Calls, We Listen

This post is part of our Escapes Editor’s Picks series, where LivingSocial travel expert Nick Stafford talks about great destinations to travel and tour.

There’s nothing like National Great Outdoors Month to inspire a return to nature for your next getaway. Whether luxe lodging is a prerequisite or going off the grid entirely sounds better to you, it’s time to lace up your boots and set off to one of our favorite places from our great outdoors collection.

Those seeking rustic and romantic seclusion should look no further than a houseboat on the Hood Canal. Located on the Puget Sound’s Olympic National Forest, cast away your cares with champagne in hand and escape the chill of Pacific Northwest nights with a dip in your private hot tub. Bubbles + bubbles = <3.

If you’d rather be oceanbound, consider this gorgeous hideaway in California’s Monterey Bay. The inn boasts lush green gardens as far as the eye can see as well as an on-site monarch butterfly habitat.

The more rugged adventurers can make a splash on a family-friendly West Virginia river rafting trip that epitomizes the state’s “wild and wonderful” motto. Explore each bend and meander of the New River and then doze off beneath billions of stars at a remote campground.

For those in need of a little detox, this New York fitness retreat pairs serenity with sweat amidst 23 acres of lush Catskills countryside. Attend daily training classes, enjoy healthy guided meals and reward yourself with a restful night’s sleep in this cozy 19th century mansion.

Adventurers will appreciate a six-day tour of Utah’s Mighty Five national parks. This expedition across America’s National Parks Capital takes nature buffs on guided tours of sprawling canyons, looming mountains, and brilliant red deserts like you’ve never imagined.

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Cheers to That

Wine-glass_RoseMove over, France. America has officially topped you as the No. 1 consumer of wine worldwide. From full-on aficionados to the occasional tippler, we drink more than 4 billion bottles of wine yearly as a nation. That’s enough to fill 1,200 Olympic swimming pools!

Our insatiable enthusiasm for this adult beverage translates to some creative consumption, and LivingSocial has some of the best ways to sip wine with your beau or besties in tow.

Toast to your artistic side at a Paint Nite in your city or sample Washington, DC’s best at the Capital Wine & Cider Fest. Folks in the Big Apple can enjoy an after-hours tour and wine reception of Eldridge Street Synagogue, one of New York City’s most stunning architectural landmarks. Or reward your thirsty body with a glass at the finish line of the Chardonnay Run in Chicago.

Fancy a wine weekend? Escape to Leavenworth, which is nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, for a wine tasting amidst Bavarian charm, or explore California’s wine country at a romantic inn in Lodi, known as the Zinfandel Capital of the World.

Or simply savor these deals on premium wine and moscato packages that will have you seeing red – red wine, that is!

Dad’s Day Done Right

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Step away from the neckties. You’ve only given a new one to your darling dad every Father’s Day since you were nine years old. On average, we spend $114 on Dad every year for Father’s Day — imagine how many ties that is! Now imagine spending that money on an experience that your dad will remember for years. We like the sound of that.

Do Father’s Day 2015 a little differently. Instead of a pack of golf balls, get dad out on the green with this Passport to Golf coupon book, usable at more than 150 courses. Ditch the backyard barbecue for a thrilling ride on a hot air balloon. Up the ante for your tech-savvy dad with something sleek from Sharper Image or even a drone. The possibilities are endless in our special Father’s Day collection featuring deals on hundreds of one-of-a-kind gifts.

Gadgets and special outings are some of the most popular Father’s Day gifts in America, and it’s no wonder because these gifts last. This Father’s Day, go for a gift that’s lasting, memorable… and doesn’t hang around his neck.

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